Friday, February 18, 2011

Substitute Oil...Seriously

To the Editor:

As a college student I have taken my fair share of classes and have studied a wide variety of subjects, from science, art, sociology, political science, journalism to mathematics. I am a political science minor and have a major in journalism and also am the president of a political group on campus at Ramapo College of New Jersey. In my nearingly four years of college I have found that although I have taken a wide range of classes, one topic seems to surface in each course--the environment.

A subject that seems to be largely ignored by many is the underlying issue for much of my undergraduate studies. I admit I had never thought much about the environment until recently. As Ramapo Against the War, the organization I am a part of on campus, was trying to come up with a new topic for an event, an environmental studies professor, Ashwani Vasishth, stopped by our meeting . It was then that our group decided to put together an Oil Spills and Resource Wars event on campus.

I was well aware of the connection that the U.S. and Middle Eastern war has to oil, yet I was blissfully unaware of oil’s impact more broadly. Ashwani went into detail about the gulf oil spill and oil as a finite resource. According to Ashwani’s projections, the known oil reserves have little time before they are tapped out.

My love for reporting and politics, as I quickly came to understand from his comments, are both very much tied to environmental issues and policies. Listening to Ashwani speak, it seemed foolish that there are no serious policies put into effect for a switch to alternative energy.

This past winter had one of the most extreme cold temperatures and snowfalls in years. This past summer was one of the warmest in a long time. Projected for this year is an early spring with a heat wave of a summer. Watching the once moderate climate of New Jersey fall to extreme weather patterns puts a reality to the claims of global climate change.

On the one hand I have seen reports of solar panel houses increasing and electric car sales increasing. Beyond fossil reported that, “Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Ruler of Dubai hopes by 2014 Dubai will source its energy consumption from renewables to around 14%,” spreading the initiative to the Middle East.

However, while small efforts are being made, it seems that oil is a hard addiction to break, as large investments and economies have become reliant on its perseverance. Talk of a serious shift in energy sources is yet to be seen and there is no policy yet that offers a timeline of when we will be completely off our reliance on oil.

According to Ashwani, the global production of oil is set to peak in the next four years. After that, oil reserves will begin to rapidly decline.The Independent reports, “BP's Statistical Review of World Energy, published yesterday, appears to show that the world still has enough "proven" reserves to provide 40 years of consumption at current rates.” Given this information, I can only hope ordinary people as well as governments start to think seriously about global climate change and alternative energy sources.

Deanna Dunsmuir

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